Crossing the Line
Some people might argue that Mark’s relationship with Linda became an affair the moment he responded to her with private thoughts or feelings that should have been held in reserve for his wife. While he understand the self-centered and damaging nature of this kind of thinking (his growing obsession with Linda was inconsistent with the promises he’d made to his wife), he also have faith that there is a distinct difference between thoughts of infidelity and an act of infidelity (whether or not that act involves sex). While the former often leads to the latter, they are not the same. Mark’s thoughts about Linda were pushing him closer to an action, but he had not yet crossed the line.
Mark could see the line but for him the line was that moment when he would, in some way proclaim his feelings to Linda. His declaration could have been with a look, or a touch, or a word—anything that will let her know that he was interested in moving their relationship beyond friendship. Stopping anywhere short of that line would have circumvented the various consequences that were bound to occur once he stepped over.
But Mark was drawn to the line. At first, he really doesn’t want to cross it; he simply wanted to get as close as he could, right up to the edge, to see what the other side looked like. His guess was, Linda was eager to go beyond the line with him, yet he wasn't so sure. Thoughts are running around his mind: ‘What if she didn't feel the same?’ ‘What if she was appalled by any suggestion that we can be something more than friends?’ ‘What if she told her husband (or my wife) that I made a pass at her?’
In spite of these thoughts bugging his mind, he learned something about standingclose to the line and that is, he couldn't stay there forever. He either had to back way up, or take a step. The pressure was too great to just do nothing, so Mark just decided to risk placing his foot on the other side.
Unquestionably, he opted for reasonable rejection. If Linda took offense at what he said, he wanted to be able to claim innocence. And so, one afternoon as they sat alone in an office, Mark confessed to her, "If we weren't careful, this relationship could go farther than it should."
Linda hesitated but she’s blushing. She finally looked at Mark and murmured something about them needing to be careful about making any undesirable slip-ups. She left for the afternoon, but later carried a three page letter admitting her feelings for Mark.
There they were, standing together on the other side of the line. Mark had some ambiguous sense of the impending consequences, but he didn't care. At that second, he just wanted nothing else besides feeling this growing romance.
The moment Mark’s affair with Linda began, he was obsessed with her. Modifications were made to his schedule so he could be alone with her. They met in private areas of local parks, drove out of town for private meals, invented reasons to be absent from their families, and even went to each other's home when their significant other is away.
Mark did not imagine to be caught and he didn't spend much energy worrying about detection or bearing in mind the consequences of being found out. The affair was an addiction; all he cared about was getting his next fix with Linda.
Their desire was greater than their caution. They started taking bigger risks, they are closing themselves in an office room even though they knew it might look suspicious; they are stealing quick embraces when someone was just around the corner and they even call each other when they’re spouses were home.
According to Mark, he isn’t normally a reckless person. Doing something he would have never risked before was part of the thrill of the affair. It was a new kind of urgency and he wanted more and more of it.
But of course, the more risks he took, the harder he had to work at keeping his tracks protected. Prior to the affair, he had always respected the truth and held honesty as a personal virtue. On second thoughts, he was so amazed at how quickly and effortlessly he turned to dishonesty. In an affair, lying becomes a basic tool of endurance.